John is one of several unpaid carers in East Sussex to take part in our inter-generational Carers’ Words, Carers’ Lives heritage project. John took part in a short film in which he tells his story and talks about an object that has special meaning to him.
“I’m John, I care for Pura my wife, she’s had dementia and other medical problems for about five years.”
As an unpaid carer, can you talk about how life has changed for you?
I have to do the cooking, which I haven’t done for sixty years or so. My wife does nothing round the house now. I have to do the shopping; she comes with me…she puts things in the trolley, I take things out – I put things in we need! I’m lucky I’ve got three children, none of whom live near, but we’re a close family and keep well in touch and they help. I just get on with it…
Do you get the chance for respite, and what would you want?
Holidays over the last five years have been two short breaks with my son-in-law while my daughters looked after Pera. I can get an occasional game of bowls, it’s a good relaxation but I have to get a sitter to come in for Pera – that makes bowls expensive. What I want can’t be delivered, and that’s for Pera to get better. My life revolves around her, and it will for the foreseeable future.
How did you find out about Care for the Carers?
I went to the doctors and I saw a notice about Care for the Carers, I’ve been looked after by them. Jollies they do are pleasant and the courses they run are useful… you learn a bit; in fact you probably learn a lot. The more you meet people, the more you know what a difficult task it is for everyone. I attend our group forum once a month. We talk together of our problems – that helps solve them.We have speakers related to Alzheimer’s; things about the home which can help and organisations that give support, and that’s been good. The creative writing course was better than I expected – I’m not a writer! It was a very friendly group, I enjoyed it.
What precious object has a special meaning to you?
Binoculars– they’re ancient but they give me a good close-up, it’s what I need when birdwatching…I can quickly get them focused. And the book’s British Birds –if I see a bird I don’t recognise in the garden, I can look it up as long as I remember what it was, rough size and colours.
“Caring is a full-time job, I find it hard.”